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1983 CJ-7 5.3 Vortec swap

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  • 4 months later...

Pink inner fenders is a long story.  The entire Jeep used to have a Panther Pink show quality paint job  (look up Panther Pink, it is a factory Mopar color on Dodge Chargers).  Judge all you want, but I had more women start conversations with me than I could shake a stick at.  I was stationed in Hawaii at the time, and the salt air ate the whole body.  The only original body panels on this thing are the inner fenders, lol.  The only original parts left from 1983 are the frame, steering column, steering gear, some brake lines, and the inner fenders.  The Jeep has been in the family since 1995.


It will be getting a relatively quiet exhaust, I like to hear the tires crunching over rocks when off road.   :yes:

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  • 7 months later...
On 9/16/2017 at 3:03 PM, Crash said:

What trans are you running?

It's an NV3550 from a TJ (info in my signature line too!).  I adapted it to the motor with a Novak adapter plate that allows a Chevy Bellhousing to bolt on.  I used a Chevy bellhousing with a built in hydraulic slave mount, makes for a clean setup.  I was already running a hydraulic clutch on my swapped in 3550 with the swapped in 4.0.  All I had to do was make a line to connect the m/c to the new slave.  All done, the shifter handle came up almost exactly where a factory T5 shifter does.  However it's design required the bolt on stick shift to be "above" the boot (see interior pic).  I think it works out well.  In the past, I just drilled the rear flange of the trans to accept the Dana 300 T-case, although since I was in this deep I went ahead and added a clocking plate so I could clock the D300 and gain some ground clearance.  Still need to make a new crossmember that takes advantage of the clearance, I think it will be nearly, but not quite, flat.


NV3550 is rated at 300 lbsft input torque, motor makes that or a little better.  I have been driving it to work often (50 mile round trip) and have done two Jeep Jamborees this year, Land Between the Lakes and Top of the Ozarks.  TOTO had some of the hardest trails I have ever put the Jeep through, and so far the trans is holding up fine.

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  • 7 months later...

Recently wrapped up some work.  I switched to a different radiator and electric fan.  Added an engine oil cooler.  Switched out my YJ dual diaphragm vacuum brake booster with a hydroboost unit from an Astro van.  That was a little more than I had bargained for, as I had to pull the steering column and pedal hanger to switch from my YJ brake pedal back to a CJ brake pedal.  It worked out in the end.  The factory CJ brake lines even hooked right up to the Astro master cylinder!  I'd modified my oem lines to work with the YJ m/c, but I had a set of aftermarket stainless steel ones laying around.






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

This isn't the first time I've flopped.  I was trying a harder line and it didn't work out.  I've had body damage on the last three trips I've made.  I was actually just thinking yesterday that I need to re-evaluate my driving skills and make an effort to not bang the body up, if I can help it.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 3 months later...
On 4/30/2021 at 10:06 PM, 89 MJ said:

Well, how’s it doing?

I haven't revisited this thread in a long time.  The CJ is still running great and has had a lot of mods, it's almost a constant thing.


A shot of the current engine compartment.


I recently made a lot of changes to my on board air system.  Installed a smaller tank (4g to 2.5g), switched to a different pressure cutoff switch with a lower top end pressure, made a bracket for the air chuck that mounts to the pass seat base using the existing bolts.  Plumbed in the air switch for the new air actuated front Ox locker, replacing the Detroit locker.


Recently built what I call a "center rack" as it's not a traditional console.  Pic shows just the front of the rack and various components and controls in the cab.  And my new replacement Motobilt transmission hump cover plate.  It was quite a project, had to bend it to shape, drill the mounting holes being very careful to line up with the existing holes, cut the transmission and transfer case shifter holes, then powder coat it.


I'm a Trail Guide at the Arch Canyon Jeep Jamboree in Blanding, UT.  If you are looking for an off road adventure with challenging obstacles, amazing views, and interesting history, it's worth checking out. 


Went to the Silver Valley Jeep Jamboree in Mullan, ID back in July.

5.3 Vortec 20210711.jpeg


CJ cab controls diagram LS.jpeg



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